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Climate group welcome motion

Climate group welcome motion 23 July 2020

New climate change group welcomes Assembly motion on need to introduce NI climate change act

On the same day (21st July) the Assembly passed a motion calling on the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs Minister Edwin Poots to introduce a climate change act to the floor of the Assembly within three months, Dr Amanda Slevin from Queen’s University was appointed chair of the recently formed Climate Coalition NI[1]. The coalition, which includes representatives from the environment, international development and aid, business, student and academic sectors is also calling for a climate change act to be introduced in Northern Ireland.

Tuesdays’ Assembly motion called on the Executive to fulfil the climate action and environmental commitments agreed in “New Decade, New Approach”. One of those commitments was that

The Executive will introduce legislation and targets for reducing carbon emissions in line with the Paris Climate Change Accord.”

Responding to the Assembly motion Dr Amanda Slevin, chair of the Climate Coalition NI, said

“The Climate Coalition NI is disappointed that more than five months after the NI Assembly declared a climate emergency, Minister Poots said that introducing a climate change act to the floor of the Assembly within three months “is impossible to achieve, and it is ridiculous to ask for it”[2]. We would expect an emergency demands a quick response and would be concerned why it appears so little progress has been made on this issue since February. However, if it will be too great a challenge to introduce climate change legislation within three months, we would ask the Minister to say when he would be able to introduce this legislation to the Assembly”

Dr Slevin continued,

“Yesterday Minister Poots talked enthusiastically about how when he was previously Environment Minister he pushed for a higher recycling target than was initially proposed, despite criticism that target would not be achieved. That higher target was achieved. This shows the importance of being ambitious. We hope Minister Poots can repeat this success by helping to achieve ambitious climate change targets for NI and we believe that an essential part of doing that will be introducing a NI climate change act which will ensure NI reaches net zero carbon emissions like the rest of the UK.

We agree with the statement Minister Poots made in the course of the debate in the Assembly in February 2020 that:

Action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to our changing climate should not be viewed as a burden but as an opportunity, and we need to create a stronger, prosperous and more sustainable green low-carbon economy and enhanced natural environment for everyone.”[3]

We would encourage the Minister to take advantage of those opportunities and bring legislation to the floor of the Assembly as soon as possible. We would be happy to work with the Minister on this and further to that we will be writing to the Minster seeking a meeting.”

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[1] The members of the Climate Coalition NI include representatives from Belfast Food Network, Business in the Community NI, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, Christian Aid, Climate NI, Friends of the Earth, Habitat for Humanity, National Trust, Northern Ireland Environment Link, NUS-USI (National Union of Students – Union of Students in Ireland), Oxfam, Queens University Belfast, Red Cross, RSPB, Sustainable NI, Trocaire, Ulster Wildlife, Woodland Trust, XR (Extinction Rebellion)